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Use Social Media Safely

Tips for using social media safely

This article applies to: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

These days, the Internet touches nearly every aspect of our daily lives. When we all take steps to secure our connected devices and data, we all benefit. When using a computer, phone, or tablet, think of the following:

Regardless of how fast your fingers fly on a keyboard or your phone, the best tool you have to help avoid risks online is your brain. Stop before you post, share, or send: Do you trust the site you're on? How would you feel if your information ends up somewhere you didn't intend?

With every social media account you sign up for, every picture you post, and status you update, you're sharing information about yourself with these social media companies and the world. How can you make sure you and your information stay safe online?

No matter what social media platform you use, consider the type of information you choose to share with others. Here are the common cyber risks you may face when using social media:

Sharing sensitive information. Sensitive information includes anything that can help a person steal your identity or find you, such as your full name, Social Security number, address, birth date, phone number, or where you were born.

Posting questionable content. Remember, future employers may look at your social media accounts before hiring you. Questionable content can include pictures, videos, or opinions that may you seem unprofessional or mean and can damage your reputation or future prospects.

Tracking your location. Many social media platforms allow you to check-in and broadcast your location, or automatically adds your location to photos and posts.

Remember, there is no ‘Delete’ button on the Internet. Think before you post, because even if you delete a post or picture from your profile only seconds after posting it, chances are someone still saw it.

Don’t broadcast your location. Location or geotagging features on social networks is not the safest feature to activate. In theory, you could be telling a stalker exactly where to find you or telling a thief that you are not home.

Connect only with people you trust. While some social networks might seem safer for connecting because of the limited personal information shared through them, keep your connections to people you know and trust.

Keep certain things private from everyone. Certain information should be kept completely off your social networks from the start. While it’s fun to have everyone wish you a happy birthday, or for long-lost friends to reconnect with you online, listing your date of birth with your full name and address gives potential identity thieves pertinent information.

Other things to keep private include sensitive pictures or information about friends and family. Just because you think something is amusing does not mean you should share it with the world.

Speak up if you’re uncomfortable. If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let him or her know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them, and it is important to respect those differences. Also, report any instances of cyberbullying you see.


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our university's privacy practices, including
information use and third parties, visit University Privacy.